Journalist Bemoans Fact People Won't Pay For Online Content; Suggests Users Be Forced To Pay For Online Content
from the building-a-walled-garden-with-everyone-on-the-inside dept
Now, these various media giants may not be able to agree on which industry deserves the most propping up, but they can all agree that someone should pay for it. And not just any someone. No, the dusty media leviathans who are routinely being beaten up for their lunch money on the Web 2.0 playground all agree that you should pay for the stuff you're used to getting for free, although they'll gladly allow someone else to do the dirty collection work.
caracabe directs us to the latest edition of the journalism's bold "new" business plan, as presented by John Reinan of the Minnesota Post. In prime journalist fashion, Reinan gives us the bad news first:
America's newspaper companies just reported their second-quarter results, and the news was bad - again.
Gannett, McClatchy, the New York Times, the Washington Post - all saw print advertising shrink by 6 percent to 10 percent from the same time last year. Iowa-based Lee is on the verge of bankruptcy.
The reason for the decline is clear: A lot of people have decided there's no reason to pay $20 a month for the newspaper when they can get news for free on the Internet. But is that news really free?Good question, John. Is the news really free? Most would argue that, yes, news can be freely obtained from pretty much anywhere on the internet at any given time. There are, of course, certain outliers who have instituted various paysieves to keep themselves afloat momentarily (including the Onion's suprisingly non-ironic "Pay Layer"), but if the numbers are to be believed, walled gardens lined with furniture ads aren't going to keep these soapboxes afloat much longer. Reinan has a suggestion, however, and he's dragging Old Man Recording Industry off his deathbed as an example:
The music business has been hit just as hard by the Internet as newspapers have. With digital technology making it easy to share files, it seems like only suckers actually pay for music these days.Wow. Music sure does have it good. No wonder that industry is peacefully tending to its own garden and leaving the market to sort out the rest. I guess Old Man Recording Industry is healthier than he looks. Sure, the internet's been beating on him some, but most of the bruising seems to be fading nicely.
But the music business does have one thing going for it that newspapers don't: a royalty system. For decades, composers and performers have gotten a tiny payment every time one of their songs is played on a jukebox or the radio, or is used in a movie or TV show.
That's all well and good for the comparatively healthy recording industry, but any tenuous linking would surely bring us into the domain of the landmark Apples v. Oranges decision, which has clearly warned against metaphoric stretching and specious conclusions in self-interested editorializing. What say you, Reinan?
It seems to me that the work of journalists is just as much an intellectual property as the work of songwriters. Why shouldn't they - or their news organization - get royalties when that work is publicly disseminated via the Internet?Ah. Clever. Surely these artistes behind the reporting of facts that occurred without their assistance are entitled to a cut of the millions of dollars generated by their services. But how?
It would be impossible to police the millions of websites that populate the Internet. But it would be much easier to collect payments from the relative handful of Internet and mobile service providers.Excellent! We don't need to know what would be the "right thing to do." All we really need to keep journalism afloat is whatever's the "easiest thing to do." Let's just take it out of those greedy billionaire ISPs. After all, without all this content, they'd cease to exist and probably have to go do some real work. Like ironworking. Or switchboard operating.
It's only fair that the greatest beneficiaries of the internet be obligated to pay for everything on the internet. And they'll certainly be busy, these rogue ISPs. The recording industry and the motion picture industry have both expressed a deep interest into turning ISPs into their own personal rent-a-cops. The real cops, along with the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS and a million other overreaching acronyms would like the ISPs to compile the world's biggest virtual file cabinet, just in case some future criminal activity can be reverse engineered from John Q. Public's internet history.
But here's the best part. It won't cost the ISPs a cent to do this.
Sure, they'd probably pass it along to the consumer, and the result would be that you'd pay an extra buck or two a month on your phone or cable bill.That's fantastic, Reinan! Of course this will work! Why, with that sort of cavalier attitude towards the end user, you journalism boys will be sitting at the grownup table with Mr. Movies and Mr. Music in no time!
Seems like a pretty small price to help keep that "free" news coming.Oh, absolutely! Couldn't agree more. "Free" isn't helping anyone. A flat fee that assumes everyone is interested in your particular brand of news could help everybody! And who would head this up? Some sort of royalty group? Even better, because as everyone knows, royalty groups are famous for their transparent accounting and quick payouts. But even better than "better" is the fact that someone is going to need to enforce this. You're going to have to get the government involved or you're going to find the ISPs opting out faster than potential pallbearers at a Murdoch family funeral.
So, let's wrap this all up and see how this potential business plan works out.
1. Users don't want to pay for online newspapers.Is that about right? If the users don't want to pay for something, we can just lift the money from their wallets via a third party? If that's what passes for a business plan, it's no wonder you're struggling. I think when people recommend that you build your online community in order to maximize your financial opportunities, I think they're referring to something more meaningful than gently caressing their back pocket area.
2. Turn the ISPs into toll booths.
3. Users now pay for online newspapers whether they're reading them or not.